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EDITOR'S NOTE: After the publication of this story, questions were raised about the accuracy of some of the statements. See more details here.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell was taking a nap when his SEAL team leader, Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, woke him up and pointed to the mountain.

"I rolled over and [saw] a line of Taliban above me, 20 feet, 20 feet above me," he said. "We were right off the top of the mountain. And the hair stood on the back of my neck. I could smell them."

The team was facing about 180 Taliban fighters, one of whom looked down on the SEALs from pine trees above the team, Luttrell said.

"I [shot] him, and when I did, man, that unleashed hell," he said. "I never been — I never heard gunfire like that."

The SEALs fought "an avalanche of Taliban" for about five minutes before Murphy ordered the team to fall back, Luttrell said.

"I grabbed my pack and my rifle and the ground gave out from underneath me and I started tumbling," he said.

Luttrell said he did three complete flips before he was able to stop himself. The other SEALs likewise tumbled down the mountainside.

"When we hit the open ground, man, they unloaded on us with mortars and RPGs like nobody’s business," he said.

One team member, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz, tried calling in for help, but his hand got blown off during the radio call, Luttrell said.

"I was a medic, and he’s like, ‘I need some help, man, man they shot me!’ " Luttrell said. "And I was like, ‘Well, I can’t help you,’ because there’s no medicine on the battlefield for those who don’t know that. It’s rounds back downrange. That’s it."

Dietz put a magazine in his rifle and continued to fight, Luttrell said.

The SEALs worked their way down to a ravine, where the Taliban started picking them apart, he said. At one point, an RPG flew right between Luttrell and Murphy.

Dietz was shot twice in the throat and then suffered a fatal shot in the head after Luttrell picked him up, Luttrell said.

Surrounded by Taliban, Murphy worked his way up the mountain to call for backup, he said. Despite being shot twice in the back, Murphy finished his call.

"About 10 minutes later, you know, he started screaming my name, and this is bad, I tell people, I was like, I don’t want him to die because of the way he was screaming my name," Luttrell said. "Like, you know, you never hear a man scream like this in your life … I can’t get it out of my head."

After Murphy died, Luttrell and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, who had been shot in the head, tried to make it to safety when Luttrell was knocked unconscious by an explosion.

Luttrell said he woke up later and crawled several miles to a village, killing three Taliban on the way.

He was later captured by the Taliban, who threatened to cut his head off, before being rescued by local villagers and eventually found by Army Rangers.

Despite his wounds, Axelson survived another two weeks before his body was found, Luttrell said.

"True testament to a warrior," he said.


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